Friday, October 12, 2007

Hero Of The Week: Dear Abby

For years, rumblings have surfaced on the Internet, conjecture about her casual references to "sexual orientation" and "respect." Now, Dear Abby is ready to say it flatly: She supports same-sex marriage. "I believe if two people want to commit to each other, God bless 'em," the syndicated advice columnist told The Associated Press. "That is the highest form of commitment, for heaven's sake."

What Jeanne Phillips, aka Abigail Van Buren, finds offensive and misguided are homophobic jokes, phrases like "That's so gay," and parents who reject or try to reform their children when they come out of the closet.

Her views are the reason she's being honored this week by Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a national advocacy group that provides support for gay people and their families. The original Abby, Phillips' 89-year-old mother, Pauline, helped put PFLAG on the map in 1984 when she first referred a distraught parent to the organization. [Note: I cut this article out and I'm sure that I still have it somewhere. I sent a copy to my mother when I eventually came out to her.]

Jeanne Phillips, who formally took over the column when her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease five years ago, has continued plugging the group, as well as its affiliate for parents with children who identify as transgender, and a suicide hotline aimed at gay teenagers.

"I'm trying to tell kids if they are gay, it's OK to be gay. I've tried to tell families if they have a gay family member to accept them and love them as they always have," she said.

Alert "Dear Abby" readers may have noticed that the youthful attitude Phillips promised to bring to the column includes a decidedly gay-friendly take on most matters. In a March 2005 column that touched a nerve with some readers, for instance, Phillips came down unequivocally on the side of scientists who say sexual orientation is a matter of genetics, not personal choice. She advised a mother who had cautioned her 14-year-old daughter to keep her feelings for other girls secret to "come to terms with your own feelings about homosexuality."

"Accepting the status quo is not always the best thing to do," she wrote. "Women were once considered chattel, and slavery was regarded as sanctioned in the Bible. However, western society grew to recognize that neither was just. Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands and Spain have recognized gay marriage, and one day, perhaps, our country will, too."

"If gay Americans are not allowed to get married and have all the benefits that American citizens are entitled to by the Bill of Rights, they should get one hell of a tax break. That is my opinion," said Phillips, who speaks with the no-nonsense tone of someone who is used to settling debates.

"If they are my readers, they know how I feel on the subject," she said. "I don't think I'm a flaming radical. I'm for civility in life. I'm for treating each other with respect, trying to do the best you can."
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2 comments:

Al said...

Flaming radical or not, I think she's amazing. She obviously understands the power she has when she advocates "full support and nothing less".

Though I'm pleased, but not that surprised. She's always been a classy lady.

michael sean morris said...

Like mother like daughter...